Are you new to coding? Have you been struggling to come to grips with your first programming language? If so, allow me to illuminate an early step on your path to becoming a software developer.
Coding is an easily accessible field for everyone with an internet connection. It’s a great medium for anyone thinking of switching fields. It’s also great for anyone looking to adopt a new hobby that mentally engages the mind. There is a wealth of online resources that allow you to start building a base of knowledge. HTML and CSS are the recommended languages when diving into the realm of web development. They are easy to grasp. Their syntaxes are straight-forward and their rules and properties bear intuitive names.
So you’ve done your research and you’ve decided to begin with the (insert tutorial name here) program. Everything is going fine so far. You’ve spent a few hours each day, reading web notes. You’ve gotten into the groove of watching tutorial videos on your favourite platform. Now it’s time to start coding.
It’s usually at this point that things start getting hazy.
You write the page skeleton and start adding headings and ‘p’ tags. Before long you have content on the page but everything looks a bit funky. Time to apply some CSS. After adding some text colour, font styling, and an input field, your excitement builds. You now have something resembling a very basic 1990’s website.
It’s not what you had in mind. You were trying to get that 2019 goodness going on, but here you are.
Here’s what you should do next.
Trying to run a race isn’t going to get you anywhere. When building any webpage, it pays to first take stock of what you’re trying to build. Break the webpage down into sections. Does it have a navigation bar or a sidebar? How many sections are there? How is the footer structured? Try breaking down the webpage into semantic sections first. If your mind struggles to do this, break out a pen and paper.
Once you have your wireframe built, you’ll have a better idea of how to move forward. Also, don’t try designing everything at once. Start at the top and work your way down in a systematic fashion.
So you’ve got your first few page sections built. You’re unsure of how to position those pesky divs in the way you want to. Rewind and revisit those tutorials. Go through each new and relevant piece of information step by step. Keep trying things out and testing concepts until you have a good handle on them. Think of the web page as your own, personal scrapbook. Declare blank divs and use them to figure out how each CSS rule works. Trial and error is the best teacher.
You’re trying to clone a website and the tutorial instructs you to use the browser’s developer tools. This affords you extra help in seeing how things are organised on the page. Yet, it doesn’t quite explain the finer details and you’re still a bit confused by what you’re seeing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Stick To The Process
Coding can get frustrating at times. Information, while easy to come by can sometimes be hard to understand and apply. This is especially true if you’re now starting. Don’t let these early frustrations get the best of you. If you’re stuck on something or you’re simply burnt out. Take a break. Consecutive hours spent learning a new concept can take their toll. Leave the computer and get a snack, drink some water or get some rest. More times than not, progress lies on the other side of a refreshed mind.
You’re anxious to become a crack-shot web developer, and I understand. Rome was not built in a day. This process will take the kind of time and effort that few other things do. These simple principles will ensure that you build a solid foundation. One in which you learn and test those new things as you learn them. Before you know it, you’ll get into a rhythm of improvement. You will develop a level of comfort as you continue on the path to becoming an expert programmer.